By Kathryn Peck
I’ve potty trained four children. Yet as each once approached that all-important milestone marker, I would nervously think, “How do I do this again?
It’s true, no one grows up not potty trained, but it’s still a stressful time for parents who are exhausted from worrying about accidents, resistance, and let’s face it, diapers are just a whole lot easier at first. (Did you remind them to use the potty before getting in the car? And what about before bed?)
It’s true, no one grows up not potty trained, but it’s still a stressful time for parents who are exhausted from worrying about accidents, resistance, and let’s face it, diapers are just a whole lot easier at first.
And when you nail it with one child and think you’ve got it figured out, the next is completely different and your confidence is shattered.
With one child, the 3-day method of potty training with m&m rewards worked like a charm. In fact, I often laugh that the m&m’s worked too well when I remember me trying to encourage my child to stop going to the bathroom so much. “You have to give your body enough time to make more pee!” I’d say.
The next child? Three days turned into 365 days; m&ms were useless incentives, full-sized candy bars, stuffed animals, I even promised a real unicorn if my child used the potty - nothing worked. I could not convince her to use the potty, only she could. And one day, she decided she was ready.
After going through potty training four times, quite differently each time, here are a few tips that might help.
- Come up with a game plan and stick to it.
- Choose a potty that is easily accessible for your child so that they can use it on their own. We like the OXO Tot Potty Chair best.
- Stock up on other must-haves, like flushable wipes, pants or shorts without buttons or snaps, potty books, and rewards (stickers, m&ms, etc.).
- Set a timer to remind you when it’s time for your little one to use the potty. It’s a lot at first, and a lot to forget.
- Be patient. Don't get frustrated if things are taking a long time. Potty training can take a long, long time.
- Remind yourself that accidents happen and don't punish your child or get angry when they do. This can lead to setbacks and/or resistance.
- Don’t overthink it. You can drive yourself crazy in the tailspin of worrying about things like, if I put my child into pull-ups, will this cause confusion? And what if we forget the travel potty seat? It’s just pressure that doesn’t help anybody.
As a parent, the hardest thing about potty training is knowing that ultimately, this stepping stone is not in your control. You can help, incentivise, encourage all you want, but the decision is up to your child. Just know that it will happen. (It’s just not up to you to decide when.)
About the author: Kathryn is the owner of Bicycle Pie and mom of 4 little ones. Also a writer, editor, and former owner of one of Boston's premiere baby boutiques, she continues to write about motherhood, children's products, family life, and all other things that test our skills and patience as parents.
Photo credit: iStock.com/Ole_CNX